January 25, 2017

Wraps (Whole 30 Style)

As we continue trying to incorporate aspects of Whole 30 into our meals, we can only eat so many taco salads. So I gave this recipe from Meals Made Simple a shot. As I was cooking these wraps, I felt they really were more like crepes and would be good with almond butter and bananas. (They were. I tried that for breakfast today.)

They may not hold together perfectly for messy taco dishes with lots of sauce, but then again, neither do tortillas always. These make a large enough batch to last for a bit, so we'll play around with using them for different meals. I see a breakfast burrito being a really good option with these.

Wraps (Whole 30 Style)
6 large eggs, beaten
1 cup almond milk
6 Tbsp. coconut flour, sifted after measuring
1/2 cup arrowroot powder
2 Tbsp. melted ghee
1/2 tsp. sea salt
Ghee or palm shortening for greasing

Whisk together all ingredients. Heat a griddle to medium-high heat while letting the batter rest 10 minutes. Whisk batter again, and then grease griddle.

Ladle 1/4 cup of batter onto the hot pan, immediately spreading batter using the ladle into a larger circle, aiming for about 8 inches in diameter. Cook 45 seconds or until the edges begin to lift. Carefully flip, and cook another 30 seconds. Place on a plate, and repeat the process until all batter is used.

Makes 12 wraps that can be stored in the refrigerator 5 days or in the freezer for 6 months. If freezing, separate wraps with wax paper before sealing in a bag.

Whole 30 Cocoa Energy Bites

This Cooking Light recipe fits the bill for Whole 30, which is pretty rare to find when not specifically looking for Paleo recipes. (For pure Whole 30, omit the vanilla or replace it with vanilla bean seeds or powder.) I made these, and they're hard to resist. They taste like chocolate, which alone makes them worth eating when doing Whole 30. Now, my caveat is that if you're not trying to eat more healthy, natural foods, these aren't going to compete with a truly delicious truffle. If you're aiming for a more healthy snack that still feels like a treat, then give these a try. Here's how I adapted the recipe for these tasty bites.

Whole 30 Cocoa Energy Bites
1/2 cup hazelnuts
12 whole Medjool dates
2/3 cup almond butter
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 Tbsp. water
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake nuts 10 minutes, stirring once. Cool 10 minutes. Rub off as much of the skins as possible. Blend the nuts until they are coarse crumbs. Reserve some for rolling the balls, and leave the rest in the blender. Add the rest of the ingredients to the blender, and process until smooth. Roll the sticky mixture into small balls, and roll in reserved nuts. (It's OK if you don't have enough nuts to coat all your balls.) Chill until firm, about 30 minutes, and store in the refrigerator. Makes 20-30 balls, depending upon the size.

Chipotle Barbocoa

When I want easy meals for a few nights, I'll make a batch of chicken either like this or this in the slow cooker. Then we can eat tacos or burrito bowls or taco salads, and I don't have to worry about a lot of meal prep after work ... or after entertaining my children all day on my days off, which is far more exhausting than work.This recipe from Meals Made Simple caught my eye because it followed the same concept of easy slow cooker meal with Mexican flair.

This beef is delicious, albeit a bit too spicy for my kiddos to enjoy. It's really flavorful, and perfect for a few meals.

Chipotle Barbocoa
3-lb. beef roast (pork could be used as well)
1-2 chipotle peppers with 1 Tbsp. adobo sauce
1 small onion, quartered
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup tomato paste
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 1/2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
3/4 cup beef, vegetable or chicken stock
3 bay leaves

Place roast in a slow cooker. Combine all remaining ingredients, except stock and bay leaves, in a blender. Blend until smooth.

Pour the blended mixture on top of the roast. Add the stock and bay leaves to the slow cooker. Cook on low for 7 hours. Remove beef, and shred, removing any pieces of fat. Return the meat to the slow cooker, and cook another 1-2 hours until very tender. Serve with your favorite toppings as a salad, rice bowl or tacos. Serves 6.

January 15, 2017

Whole 30 Chocolate Caramels

So, despite eating 5 delicious cookies today, we're still mostly doing Whole 30 for a while. Had you told me the first day of November that this recipe for "caramels" would be delicious, I would have wrinkled my nose at you. After a full series of Whole 30 and then another 10 days on it in January, these were delicious. They're like Larabars, except this version has chocolate. For truly Whole 30, you'd need to omit the vanilla paste or extract. Here's the adaptation I did from Heart Beet Kitchen's version.

Whole 30 Chocolate Caramels
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. pecans
1 cup lightly packed pitted dates (about 184 grams)
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. unsweetened shredded coconut
2 1/2 Tbsp. unsweetened dark cocoa powder
2 tsp. melted coconut oil
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch of salt

In a food processor, puree pecans for 1 minute, until they are broken down and start to release their oils. Then add dates and coconut. Puree for another minute, scraping down halfway in between, until the mixture is relatively smooth. Then add remaining ingredients, and puree until mostly smooth and sticky.

Pat into parchment lined small pan. Smooth down and press firmly, with additional parchment paper on top, so your hands don't stick. Chill in the refrigerator for an hour. Remove, and lift parchment out of pan, loosing edges with knife if needed, and cut into small squares. Makes 16 squares.

January 8, 2017

Mexican Sliders

Given how much better I felt about myself ... and how I felt ... with Whole 30, we're attempting to mostly follow that eating routine for a while. Although it might seem odd, I do really well with an all or nothing approach to things like sugar. I'm the person who, if I eat a cookie (or two or three) for breakfast then figures that ice cream might as well be on the docket for lunch. As much as I love sweets like ice cream and cupcakes and all the crazy delicious things I bake, I know that my body functions better without all that sugar. And I know eliminating as much sugar and processed crap as realistically possible is all the better for us, especially in the long view of our health.

That being said, I know this likely won't last forever, and there will still be plenty of sweets to grace my kitchen. Perhaps, though, I won't eat all of every batch and will remember that my mother taught me to share.

In the meantime, this recipe I adapted from Meals Made Simple will now be part of our regular rotation. These are easy to throw together for a quick meal and full of flavor. The original recipe called for making full-size burgers. I still struggle with eating a burger without a bun, so I opted for sliders wrapped in lettuce. It's different enough that it doesn't feel weird. It feels rather delicious with a big dollop of guacamole.

Mexican Sliders
2 lbs. ground beef
1 Tbsp. onion powder
1 Tbsp. granulated garlic
2 tsp. cumin
3/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Combine all the seasonings together. Mix into the ground beef. Form into sliders (approximately 16-18). Grill (or pan fry), flipping at least once, until cooked. Serve in lettuce leaves with all desired toppings.

Notes: I plan to make a larger batch of the seasonings to have on hand, so it will take next to no time to mix things together after work. My 5-year-old ate these without complaints ... with ketchup, of course, and no lettuce.

January 4, 2017

Connecting Christmas Lights

I saw the post from Semi-Sweet Designs about these connecting Christmas lights when I was in Chicago the night before flying to the Virgin Islands for vacation. Even though I only had one week between me and Christmas after my blissful vacation, I knew I wanted to attempt these cookies. They were too simple and too cute not to try.

I imagine these would be easier with a square cutter, but I did my best to measure and cut straight(ish) squares. I had some issues with my yellow and blue icing not setting, but I'm glad I made these little guys. I definitely want to repeat these for next year because they were fun, relatively easy and look fairly impressive.

Check out the tutorial I linked to above to see Mike's expert advice on how to make these cuties.

Slow Cooker Breakfast Casserole

This recipe from Brown Eyed Baker was a tremendous hit with my family this past Christmas. It was the right mix of sausage, eggs and hashbrowns for a new favorite savory breakfast casserole. The best part? It cooks in a slow cooker overnight and is ready to be devoured first thing in the morning!

This will be a repeat for my family. Super easy and delicious!

Slow Cooker Breakfast Casserole
32 oz. frozen shredded hashbrowns
16 oz. breakfast sausage, cooked and crumbled
6 green onions, finely chopped
12 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
12 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
Additional salt and pepper to season the hash brown layers
Grease the insert of a 6-quart slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. Layer 1/3 of the hashbrowns on the bottom, then season with salt and pepper. Top with 1/3 of the cooked sausage, then 1/3 each of the green onions and cheddar cheese. Repeat the layers two more times, ending with the cheese.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the top of the hash brown, sausage and cheese layers in the slow cooker. (My slow cooker looked full before I added the eggs, but they seeped into the other ingredients, and everything fit perfectly.)

Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours (the edges will brown). Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, if there are any. Serves 8ish.